Monday, March 29, 2010
Nursing Homes Blame War on Drugs For Long Med Wait Times - News Talk 97.5FM and 1360AM: "Nursing home operators say their residents must wait too long to get some of the medicines they need -- and they blame the nation's war on drugs. U.S. Senate Democrat Herb Kohl of Wisconsin held a recent hearing on the matter, as chairman of the Special Committee on Aging. He was told that patients suffer unnecessary pain because of the delays in approving their medicines. Menasha nursing home operator Michael Schanke says the 40-year-old Controlled Substances Act should be updated. He said the Drug Enforcement Administration requires doctors to be at the residents 'beck and call,' and that's not always the case."
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Saturday, March 27, 2010
"We spend so much time, our police do, chasing around these nonviolent drug offenders, we don't have time anymore to protect our people from murders and child molesters," said Jack Cole, president of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group that plans to champion the California proposal between now and the election.
The initiative, also known as the "Tax Cannabis Act," received enough signatures this week to qualify for the November ballot. If it is approved, California would become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use by adults. The measure would also give local governments the authority to regulate and tax pot sales.
This is going to be a tough battle but I'm excited that LEAP is going to be part of the campaign. It will make the victory that much sweeter.
Friday, March 26, 2010
The arrest and conviction rate for crimes in Mexico is estimated at between 1% to 5%, a very low rate indeed. Be that as it may, even that is not an accurate representation of incarceration of cartel members considering that even those who are sent to prison walk right out again becuase of corruption, ineptitude or both.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2010
California Initiative to Control and Tax Cannabis Qualifies for November Ballot
Law Enforcement Leaders Announce Support
Sacramento, CA – The California Secretary of State today announced that the Initiative to Control and Tax cannabis has qualified for the November ballot. Reflecting the Initiative’s broad and diverse support, the Secretary of State revealed that vastly more than enough signatures were submitted from voters from across the state in near-record time.
The news was hailed by a number of veteran law enforcement officials across California. “As a retired Orange County Judge, I've been on the front lines of the drug war for three decades, and I know from experience that the current approach is simply not working,” said Retired Superior Court Judge James P. Gray. “Controlling marijuana with regulations similar to those currently in place for alcohol will put street drug dealers and organized crime out of business.”
“The Control and Tax Initiative is a welcome change for law enforcement in California,” said Kyle Kazan, a retired Torrance Police Officer. “It will allow police to get back to work fighting violent crime.”
Jeffrey Studdard, a former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff, emphasized the significant controls created by the Control and Tax Initiative to safely and responsibly regulate cannabis. “The initiative will toughen penalties for providing marijuana to minors, ban possession at schools and prohibit public consumption,” Studdard said.
(For more on the public safety benefits of the Initiative, please see http://www.taxcannabis.org/index.php/pages/public-safety-benefits-fact-sheet)
Similar to the current regulation of alcohol and tobacco, the Initiative will give local governments the ability to control and tax the sale of small amounts of cannabis to adults age 21 and older. The Initiative includes significant safeguards and controls: it will increase the penalty for providing marijuana to a minor, expressly prohibit the consumption of marijuana in public, forbid smoking marijuana while minors are present, and ban possession on school grounds.
Studies by the Board of Equalization and the Legislative Analyst Office show that the Initiative will generate billions of dollars in revenue to fund schools and public safety. Several recent polls have shown the Initiative has the support of a majority of California voters.
California’s tax regulator, the Board of Equalization, which currently collects alcohol and tobacco taxes, estimates that cannabis taxes could generate $1.4 billion in revenue each year, available to fund schools, law enforcement, and other critical needs.
The California Legislative Analyst's Office, which provides nonpartisan fiscal and policy advice, states that in addition to generating new tax revenue, the Initiative would allow correctional and law enforcement resources to be redirected to more pressing needs. The LAO says that in addition to generating “a few hundred millions of dollars annually” it could also save “several tens of millions of dollars annually” and permit the “redirection of court and law enforcement resources.”
(For more on the fiscal benefits of the Initiative, please see: http://www.taxcannabis.org/index.php/pages/fiscal-benefits-fact-sheet)
Multiple polls show that a majority of California voters support controlling and taxing cannabis. California’s widely-respected Field Poll revealed that 56% of voters support the Initiative. http://field.com/fieldpollonline/subscribers/Rls2306.pdf
Private research conducted by the campaign has confirmed the Field Poll’s data showing majority support for the Initiative. Additionally, the campaign’s research revealed that 80% of voters believe California’s current laws criminalizing cannabis have failed, 69% of voters were more likely to support the Initiative when they learned that it “will not allow cannabis to be sold to minors or near schools,” and 68% are more likely to support it when they hear that it will “take business away from street dealers, breaking their hold on our neighborhoods.”
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010
This enormous amount of manpower did not stop the killings though, as Juárez added another 11 executions and the city of Chihuahua 2 more as well. Cuernavaca, Morelos had more killings (for those of you not aware of its location, Cuernavaca is south of Mexico City, about a 45 minute drive and is home to a large community of Canadians and Americans). Sinaloa had another 5 deaths while Chilpancingo, Guerrero another assassination as well.
All in all, 36 more deaths have been added to the drug war total, now at 2289 since January 2010 (an average of 28 per day)
Another Mexican Senator has called for the legalisation of marijuana, citing the blood-bath that is now the northern Mexican border. Senator Rosario Green Macías states that the current efforts of assistance by the United States to fight a drug war have failed and that for success to be achieved it is necessary to legalise marijuana.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Here's the response from RCMP Staff Sergeant Dave Goddard, as quoted by The Province:
B.C. had 140 homicides in 2008, more than in any other year, and the RCMP deemed 30 per cent of those deaths were "gang-related".
But the UBC report is dismissed by RCMP Staff Sgt. Dave Goddard, who posed last week in front of 1,001 kilograms of cocaine seized from a sailboat, leading to charges against a Canadian and a Mexican.
"These intellectuals who come up with these ideas are great at pointing out the problem, but what's their solution?" demands Goddard.
Monday, March 22, 2010
- Walter McKay has another great post examining the insane drug war violence in Mexico:
The reported events that reach the media usually involve deaths, so the many gunfights that do occur with no injuries are less likely to be reported (other than through gossip networks like Facebook or Twitter). Now however, more and more, it is doubtful as to what happens even when any event is reported by government sources.
THIS is one of the many challenges which face Mexico, the self-serving lies, half-truths and subterfuge in conjunction with the rampant corruption which afflicts all levels of society as well as impunity, nepotism and the class structure that directly feeds into the narco-machine that is clearly growing out of control. It is plainly clear that the drug cartels are now directly challenging the power of the state and Mexico's slide to that of a FAILED STATE is increasing its acceleration.
- A big thank you to everyone who suggested names of various public officials who might benefit from a copy of Transform's book, After the War on Drugs: Blueprints for Regulation. You can still leave names in the comments section if you want. My goal is to mail the books early next week.
- The LEAP Facebook group is now up to 13,517 supporters. Wow.
- An editorial from the Globe and Mail ponders the question: do alcohol bans in remote Aboriginal communities work? Not according to Simeon Tshakapesh:
Dozens of aboriginal reserves have alcohol bans with good results. It's disheartening to learn, then, that one Labrador community – which drew international attention with its footage of gas-sniffing children – may lift its prohibition.
Natuashish chief Simeon Tshakapesh – who as a former police officer videotaped those haunting images of Innu children – says the alcohol ban is not working. His proof: Bootleg alcohol continues to get into the remote community of 725 people. A 40-ouncer of cheap rye goes for $350 on the black market.
“I don't think the crime rate has gone down,” he told The Globe. “There's a lot of criminal activity in Natuashish that doesn't get reported because people are drinking and worried about being charged under the bylaw.”
Thursday, March 18, 2010
I've put a lot of volunteer hours into LEAP, but I also know that the economy has taken its toll on many drug policy organizations including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. So I wanted to put my money where my mouth was, so to speak, and become a monthly donor.
The LEAP donation page allows you to set up a recurring donation through your choice of two organizations: Network for Good and Democracy in Action. I clicked on the Network for Good link first because it was at the top of the page. Here's what that experience was like:
- I had to set up an account with a username and password.
- I had to provide my phone number.
- I wasn't able to select my home province from the drop down menu in the address section, because Canadian provinces weren't listed (and yet it lists the "Federated States of Micronesia" as an option.. ummm, okay).
- Network for Good appears to charge a 4.75% levy on all donations, which I didn't find out until after I set up my account.
When I found out about the 4.75% levy, I canceled the donation and decided to donate to LEAP through the Democracy in Action page instead. This is the second option on the LEAP donation page. Here's what that process was like:
- I was able to complete the entire donation on one page.
- I did not have to set up a user account.
- I was allowed to live in Canada while donating to LEAP.
Now I don't want to make it look like I hate Network For Good. Looking at their web page, they state that in February 2010 they facilitated $230,000 in donations to various non-profits per day. That is substantial and they should be commended for that. However, of the two donation options, it was easier for me to donate through Democracy in Action.
What has your donation experience with LEAP been like? Do you have any suggestions on how we could improve things?
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I was very happy to see that the idea to Legalize the Medicinal and Recreational Use of Marijuana received the most votes. The idea was submitted, in part, by a LEAP speaker, Larry Talley.
However, also in the running was the idea to Send the Tobacco Treaty to the Senate for Ratification. While the Tobacco Treaty doesn't actually ban tobacco, it does severely restrict and regulate it. I find it bizarre that one of the goals of the treaty is to "increase the price of tobacco products, particularly through taxation, to discourage tobacco use." The very next stated goal is to "Eliminate the illicit trade of tobacco products."
I would hope that the readers of this page would see the problem with that. They call for raising the taxes on tobacco (as if they weren't already high enough) while at the same time they expect the government to magically eliminate the illicit trade in it. Of course, it is the high taxes that bring out the illegal trade in tobacco! Tax it even more and only the criminals will benefit. Also, remember that high taxation was the tactic used to bring about the prohibition of marijuana in the United States.
I have noticed a disturbing trend where marijuana is more and more tolerated while at the same time tobacco is less and less tolerated. It is almost as if we, as people, have a need to have a scapegoat and we love demonizing plants! Neither marijuana or tobacco is generally good for you. But that isn't the point. Adults should be free to smoke either substance, without harassment. No one is saying that reasonable restrictions and taxes aren't necessary, but we ought to keep things in perspective. We should not replace a war on marijuana with a war on tobacco. The results aren't going to be any better!
Disclaimer, I am an occasional cigar smoker and an even more occasional pipe smoker. And my blog is called Tobaccoland.
The book is available for free online if you would like to read it. The problem, of course, is that many of the people who should be reading this book are not reading it, even when it is available free of charge on the Internet.
Here's my challenge for LEAP supporters: please suggest the names of three people who might benefit from reading this book. Ideally these folks would be in law enforcement or politics. They should be open minded (I don't want to send the book to someone who is just going to chuck it in the trash). I'll pick the top three names and send a hardcopy of the book to those people, along with an invitation to join LEAP.
Now, which officials in your home state or province do you think should read this book?
Saturday, March 13, 2010
His prosecutor, Smith County Assistant District Attorney Richard Vance, originally sought a sentence of 99 years over the 4.6 ounces of marijuana police found in Wooten's vehicle, according to published reports.
Wooten was reportedly caught smoking pot within 1,000 feet of a day care center, within the radius of a so-called 'drug free zone.'"
The lie we are always told is that the war on drugs is about hard drugs like crack, heroin, and crystal meth and that no one goes to prison for simple marijuana possession. I know that isn't true. Hell, I've sent people to prison for marijuana possession (regretfully). And in Texas you can get 35 years for it. We should be outraged. Not only is this draconian, but in order to make room for this guy, violent offenders will be released early. People should be in the streets protesting.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Golden Neighbors Have Lots In Common
Thursday came and with it my copy of The Regional. As is my newspaper habit, I immediately turned to the editorial and letters page, only to find a letter taking the newspaper to task for consistently publishing my letters that support “the legalization of marijuana and even cocaine.” The writer called on law enforcement, parents, teachers and principals to write in supporting the [failed] war on drugs.
My initial reaction was to charge like a tenacious full back in the closing minutes of a Super Bowl, or like the driving drug prosecutor I once was, armed with an encyclopedia of facts and reams of refuting stories, anecdotage and medical, addiction, Prohibition, law-enforcement and economic theory.
I searched the phone book for the telephone number of this dismayed letter writer with thoughts of inviting him for coffee and a heart-to-heart talk, only to discover, “It’s my neighbor! A neighbor only a nine-iron from my front door.” I thought… I have to make clearer that I am completely opposed to drug use, just as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (www.leap.cc ), the organization I represent when I give anti-drug war speeches around the country, is strongly opposed to drug use. But while L.E.A.P. and I oppose drug use, even more emphatically, we oppose the drug war, because it doesn’t work, because it causes what it seeks to prevent, because it is the heart of most American crises worth discussing and, collectively, because these crises are unaffordable. In significant part, America government at the national, state, county and municipal levels can no longer pay the bills accumulating as a result of drug-war-driven crises.
I called my neighbor as I put on the coffee. Jim answered the phone. After a few words, I recognized his voice and he knew mine. “Jim, my neighbor with the Golden Retriever, Dakota, who romps with my son’s Golden Retriever, Scooter?” In disbelief, I asked, “Why didn’t you say something if my writing has been irritating you so long? You never said a word.” For 20 minutes, we bantered back and forth, our sincere and juxtaposing philosophic disagreements grated raw and our blood-pressures rising in tandem. It’s not a liberal-conservative disagreement, and it’s not a pro-drug or anti-drug disagreement, I contended.
Agreeing, respectfully, to disagree, we hugged over the phone, vowing that this genuine concern and disagreement would not come between our Golden Retrievers or us. Knowing it’s my neighbor, a good and honorable man, takes all the karate impulse out of my system. Instead of wanting to strike out, it occurred to me how much we agree. We both are opposed to drug use; we both favor of self-discipline, self-reliance and self-control; we both oppose runaway government and runaway public-sector pensions; we both abhor driving under the influence of substances; we both are angry with government’s inability to govern. We agree philosophically, so much. But my week and its friendly revelations were not over.
Another Gierach letter reader is the father of a Stagg basketball player on the same team as my son. We fathers both oppose drug use. “You want to legalize marijuana?” he asked incredulously. “No, not just marijuana – all illicit drugs,” I explained. “Illicit drugs are too dangerous not to control and regulate. Prohibiting them, paradoxically, surrenders the ability to control and regulate them.” A basketball game or two later, this week, the father who I’ve known for years from our son’s shared interest in sports, says, “Well, I can see legalizing marijuana but I still don’t know about harder drugs.” Progress.
Then, leaving church Sunday morning, I’m speaking to young man who looks vaguely familiar. “I see you’re still writing those drug articles. Keep them coming,” he said, and confidentially added, “You know, I’m in AA, and I haven’t had a drink or used drugs in 90 days. I’m looking for a new church.”
“Congratulations. That’s great!” I complimented. “Life is much better when sober and alert. But we each have to make that decision for ourselves.”
“You know, I use to think of your writing – ‘Great, this guy’s for legalizing drugs.’ But now, I understand – you’re not for drugs at all. I understand, and you’re right.” Progress.
According to the story, the lawmakers want "to pass regulations that require dispensaries to grow their marijuana in rural or industrial areas — eliminating neighborhood grows — and have the state keep a confidential database of their location." However, they are "facing resistance because growers fear that the DEA could use the database to crack down on them."
So while the State of Colorado wants to regulate the medical cannabis industry in a way that benefits all citizens, the DEA wants to drive it underground and into the unregulated world of criminals and thugs.
Medical cannabis is going to be grown and sold. The question is who does it, where, and under what conditions. Either the State will regulate it or the black market will.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Denmark thus joins Germany, the Netherland, and Switzerland, and to a lesser extent, Great Britain, as countries that allow for the provision of heroin to hard-core users who have proven unamenable to the traditional treatments, such as methadone maintenance. A pilot heroin maintenance program is also underway in Vancouver, Canada." - More here
The reason that so many countries are now trying heroin maintenance programs is because they work.
You don't have dealers shooting addicts. You don't have overdoses. You cut down on emergency room admissions. You don't have people selling their bodies or breaking into homes to support their habits. You don't have people spreading disease.
We can save money and lives.
We shouldn't lock people up in cages and treat them like dangerous animals because they have a substance abuse problem. That doesn't help them one bit. Many of these people can work and otherwise live somewhat productive lives, even if they never get off heroin. Many of them can get off heroin in time.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Active duty police officer and LEAP speaker/blogger David Bratzer was planning to accept an invitation to speak about drug policy and harm reduction at an official city government-sponsored event this week...until his police department's leadership stepped in and ordered him not to show up.
If you think such censorship is unfair, please add your name to LEAP's petition at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/freespeech to show your support for cops like David who speak out against unjust and ineffective drug polices even while they risk their lives enforcing them.
There are more details in the press release that follows.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 2, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell, LEAP – (202) 557-4979 or media //at// leap //dot// cc
B.C. Police Officer Ordered Not to Discuss Drug Policy and Harm Reduction
Civil Liberties Advocates File Complaint With Victoria Police Board
VICTORIA, BC – An international group of cops, judges and prosecutors who oppose the “war on drugs” is criticizing a gag order from the Victoria Police Department that limits the freedom of expression of one of its officers. The officer, David Bratzer, who volunteers with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) while off-duty, has been ordered not to speak at an official City of Victoria-sponsored event on harm reduction scheduled for this Wednesday, March 3 at 7:00 P.M.
Even though the event is scheduled outside of his regular work hours, management from the Victoria Police Department, without Bratzer’s knowledge, informed city staff that he was being withdrawn from speaking. Then on February 24, a senior officer at the department directly ordered Bratzer not to participate in the event.
In response to these developments, Bratzer stated: "I will not be attending this event, but I would like to thank the City of Victoria for the invitation to be part of an honest and open discussion about harm reduction. I will try to find other venues to present my views about drug policy."
Upon learning of the department’s order, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint with the Victoria Police Board.
Bratzer has always taken pains to state that his opinions are his own and do not reflect the views of his employer. He has participated in a number of credible venues related to drug policy during the past year, including delivering testimony to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in Ottawa (video available from LEAP).
“The voices of front-line officers who are charged with enforcing the drug laws are incredibly important to the public debate on drug policy issues,” said Jack Cole, a retired American undercover narcotics detective who serves as executive director for LEAP. “Preventing an officer from sharing his firsthand perspective about the harms of our current drug laws with policymakers is a disservice to the entire democratic process.”
LEAP is hosting an online petition at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com/freespeech where people can speak up in support of law enforcers' rights to exercise their freedom of speech and criticize drug polices that they disagree with.
As the above matter is now a sensitive labour issue, Bratzer will not be commenting further for the time being. Please contact LEAP for further information.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) is an international non-profit organization of cops, prosecutors, correctional officers and other criminal justice professionals who believe the War on Drugs is a tremendous failure. Its members believe that a system of regulation and control would be more ethical and less harmful than drug prohibition. More info at www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
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Don't forget to add your voice in support for David and other cops' free speech rights at LEAP's petition.
Monday, March 1, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell – (202) 557-4979 or media //at// leap //dot// cc
Retired Undercover Narc and Assistant Attorney General Testify for Legalizing Marijuana
Mass. Senate Bill Would Regulate and Tax the Cannabis Industry
BOSTON, MA-- A retired undercover narcotics officer and a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general will both tell Massachusetts legislators on Tuesday that it is time to legalize and regulate marijuana, based on their experiences as front-line soldiers in the “war on drugs.”
“Legalizing and regulating marijuana will serve two purposes. First, and most importantly, it will cut deeply into the profits of the drug gangs and the cartels. Second, it will generate revenues for the state,” said Jack A. Cole, a former New Jersey State Police undercover narcotics detective. Mr. Cole, who is a Medford, Mass. resident, is now the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), an international group of cops, judges, and prosecutors who no longer believe in the drug laws they once swore to enforce.
Testifying alongside Cole in favor of legalization will be former Massachusetts assistant attorney general, John A. Amabile, also a member of LEAP. The hearing, held by the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary, takes place this Tuesday, March 2, at 1:00 P.M. in room A-1 of the Statehouse.
The legislature’s consideration of Senate Bill 1801, which would legalize and regulate marijuana sales, follows the 2008 passage by 65 percent of Massachusetts voters of an initiative that decriminalized marijuana possession. Last October, the Massachusetts Joint Revenue Committee held a hearing about legalizing marijuana sales.
Massachusetts joins several other states that are considering legalizing marijuana sales. In recent months Washington State and California have held hearings on legalization bills. New Hampshire also has legalization legislation pending, and a Rhode Island Senate-appointed blue ribbon commission is studying the topic.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), is a 15,000-member organization representing police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others from around the world who want to legalize and regulate all drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info online at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
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